The Steelers struggle to replace Heath Miller has been well-known. Fortunately, with Pat Freiermuth’s arrival in Pittsburgh the Steelers have found their TE No. 1.
However, they’ve also been searching legit new TE No. 2 since Matt Spaeth was let go in 2016.
During 2021 Zach Gentry looked like he could be that man. However, he’s played 17 more games since then and he’s about to become a free agent. Has he done enough to earn a second contract?
Capsule Profile of Zach Gentry Career with the Steelers
The Steelers drafted Zach Gentry in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of University of Michigan after beginning with the Wolverines as a quarterback before converting to tight end.
Gentry’s developmental status and injuries limited him to six games and 69 snaps over his first two years in Pittsburgh (he had 13 special teams snaps, if you really need to know.) In his third year Gentry appeared in all 17 games and formally started 12 as the number 2 tight end.
Gentry’s 19 catches on 25 targets didn’t provoke any Fantasy Football bidding wars, but 11 of those did go for 1st downs and he 76% catch rate. However, Gentry didn’t make the proverbial “second year leap” in 2022. He made 19 catches on another 25 targets, which boosted his catch rate but the number of first downs he earned were nearly cut in half.
And while I don’t presume to have analyzed his blocking skills, both Steel City Insider’s Matt C. Steel and Pro Football Reference have and their evaluation has not been positive.
If nothing else, Zach Gentry will always be the player who caught Ben Roethlisberger’s last pass in the 21′ Steelers playoff loss to the Chiefs.
The Case for the Steelers Resigning Zach Gentry
The Steelers drafted Zach Gentry as a project. Both Gentry and the Steelers stuck with the project through a series of injuries. While he may not have made much of a leap in his second year as a starter, he’s a 6’8” tight end.
The Steelers should be able easily keep him in Pittsburgh at a very cap-friendly cost.
The Case Against the Steelers Resigning Zach Gentry
Who would you rather have as your TE number 2? Connor Heyward? Or Zach Gentry? Enough said.
Curtain’s Call on the Steelers and Zach Gentry
Zach Gentry’s future in Pittsburgh likely comes down to how the draft and the rest of free agency pans out. The Steelers have needs on both lines, the secondary, at linebacker and arguably receiver that are far more urgent than tight end.
On top of that, the Steelers have neither a 5th nor a 6th round pick, which is where you’d normally draft a backup tight end. It is possible that when the dust settles, the Steelers will decide to bring Zach Gentry back in Pittsburgh, but don’t expect to see him at the podium with Omar Khan any time soon.
But if the Steelers have a chance to upgrade the position, they should by all means take it.
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